I cautiously waded into Evernote territory last fall but eventually fell out of habit with it. Part of the problem I had with it is that it isn’t designed as a task manager, just a repository. That’s fine, but I still needed a task manager and I ended up using Google Tasks as well. And when things started to overlap – a note in Evernote might have more information about a task in my Google list – I grew frustrated with having to use two services to manage one project. Slowly, I quit using Evernote.
I’m giving it a second try having read more tips for using Evernote, and I’ve devised a way that turns it into something that can manage my tasks as well as reference material. Here’s my setup:
The first time around, I used just one notebook. Now, I keep seven.
@inbox: Everything comes here first and is processed
@next: One-step next actions. I only keep things in this notebook that need to be done within the next week
someday/maybe: Anything I need to do at any point beyond the next week
wait wait: Anything I am waiting on (someone’s reply to a question, etc) goes here
lists: Books to read, movies to watch, things I want, etc
reference: Information I don’t need immediately but want to save
done: Completed tasks
The benefit of seperate notebooks is that, true to GTD, I can empty my inbox every day. I can look at what needs to be done next, what I’m waiting on, and immediately tell what needs to be done first.
My tags list hasn’t changed much from my first time around, except I added Tickler tags.
Context tags: Tags like @calls, @computer, @errands, @home, @work. Anytime I am at my computer, I pull up my @computer list and see what I can do on that list. Same with the rest. I also have tags based on people I interact with regularly.
Project tags: I don’t do project tags for every single project, but overarching areas. So I have a .dth tag for my work at The Daily Tar Heel, tags for classes I am taking and tags for personal records.
Goals: I have notes here for my 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 and 50,000 foot goals. I look at these regularly and update as needed
Tickler tags: The core of how I use Evernote as a task manager.
More on my tickler tags: I have one for every day of the week, a “next week” tag and tags for every month. I only tag things that have to be done on that day. At the beginning of the month, I check the month file and evaluate items in the list. At the end of the day, I empty that day’s folder – either moving unfinished items to the next day or reevaluating them entirely. I also have one tag for critical items to alert me to tasks that need to be done immediately. I process these first.
The title of each note is the next action of a project. When that action is complete, I replace the title with the next action. (So, “buy books for class” replaces “find out what books are needed for class.”) This works well for smaller, several step projects. As soon as the project is complete, the note is filed in my “done” notebook. I keep interview notes, copies of Google Voice voicemails, calendar reminders, important documents, recipes, etc. among my notes.
So far, this Evernote set up is working really well for me. I know there are other dedicated task mangaers. And I’ve tried out Springpad, which looks like the best out-of-the-box combination of task management and note-taking. But I’m wary of buying a task manager app I might ultimately abandon, and Springpad has many features I don’t see a need for (keeping track of favorite restaurants, for instance) that add clutter around the things I do need. Evernote is easy to use, accessible (I have the Blackberry app, the iPad app, the Windows desktop client and can access the web-based version as well) and free. I’m able to keep documents related to tasks connected with the tasks, and able to quickly process through what needs to get done each day. I can email things to Evernote to add them as a note. Hopefuly this will be something I can stick with.
As a new intern in a new city in a state I’ve never lived in, I’m finding it’s not always easy to find story ideas to pitch. And finding a story idea still means making sure no one else in the newsroom is working on anything similar and checking the archives to make sure it’s not a repeat of something we’ve already done. It takes some time and looking in unusual places to find something that will work.
One of her tips (No. 10: hang out at bars) inspired me to check out a bikini bar for a story I was working on. I didn’t need to go out to the bar, and the thought of visiting one was definitely was outside of my comfort zone, but I was immeasurably glad I did in the end. Not only did I gain a new perspective on the bars, but I met really interesting people who had interesting stories that were different from what I already knew. And while I didn’t take them up on it, but I also was offered a chance to learn how to pole dance. Not your usual day in the office.
In the last month, Facebook’s made several main changes to how the site works in its goal to create “a Web where the default is social.” The changes have upset users and increased fears of diminishing privacy. Here’s what you know about the changes and what it means for you:
Connections and community pages
The change everyone seems to be noticing first are the connections that are revamping people’s profile sections. Facebook gives you two options: either link the information you’ve already listed for current city, hometown, education, work and interests, or leave those sections blank. If you chose to link, those interests get connected with pages to indicate that you “like” it.
This linking was accompanied with the introduction of community pages. Community pages are based around topics and include Wikipedia information on the topic where available, in addition to what’s being said by your friends and by all Facebook users. They’re similar to the previous pages that people and businesses could create, which have stayed the same. (Check out The Daily Tar Heel’s official page and community page for an example of the differences between the two types of pages). The major difference between an official and community page is that community pages won’t generate updates in your News Feed.
What the change means: Any page you connect to is by default public to all users, regardless of any previous privacy settings you have established. You can restrict whether the pages show up in your profile, but anyone who visits or is connected to the page themselves can see that you have “liked” the page. In response to this, many users have chosen to leave their profile interests blank. You can use the “Bio” section of your profile to describe yourself in free-form instead.
Why people are concerned: Facebook isn’t giving users much of a choice. You either opt in and accept that your connections will be universally public, or you opt out, leaving your profile blank.
You’ve probably seen the effect of these changes when browsing almost any major website (Facebook says 50,000 have already been installed). Both instant personalization and social plugins are designed to extend the Facebook experience and make it easier to connect interests across a variety of programs.
Social plugins come in the form of “like” buttons, feeds that show what your friends are up to and ways to comment directly to your Facebook Wall, all from a third-party website. You must be logged in to see the recommendations, and you’ll be prompted to log-in if you’re not. With Facebook’s instant personalization program, any visits to Microsoft Docs.com, Pandora or Yelp are personalized based on your public Facebook information (you can opt out by updating your privacy settings on Facebook).
What the change means: It’s easier to share what you’re reading and looking at with your Facebook friends, and it’s easier to get recommendations from your friends by seeing what they’re up to as well.
Why people are concerned: None of your profile information or data is shared with the third-party sites, but Facebook is able to see what websites you’re visiting and what articles you’re reading. Like with connections, any privacy settings you establish only apply to your Facebook profile. So clicking a “like” or “recommend” button on a website is public to anyone.
The latest in the months-long saga at N.C. State University’s student paper, the Technician, is a harsh editorial written by student editors calling out the school’s student media board:
Technician hasn’t faltered and fallen due to a lack of effort or passion from the students who run it, but because the umbrella which was supposed to provide it with a gentle hand has become Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s fabled albatross, dragging it down, tearing students away and weakening the staff.
The editorial also seeks signatures on a petition to replace the current advising staff.
I’ve been closely following the plight of the Technician ever since hearing that former Editor Ty Johnson had been forced to step down. I truly sympathize with the staff’s requests for more editorial freedom. I know I am among the more fortunate student journalists to be able to work for a student paper that is entirely financially and editorially independent from the University, and I appreciate the difference that makes in our ability to report on campus.
But while I sympathize 100 percent with the Technician staff’s desire for independence, I’m still waiting for the staff to step up and lead the paper in the direction they say they want it to see it go. And so far, I haven’t seen too much of that (with the exception of this thoughtful set of recommendations from the committee led by former Editor Saja Hindi). If you really want change, don’t wait for it to come from the University or the student media board. Don’t just declare an act of sedition. Declare revolution.
Instead of editorializing about how you want more control, show what you’d do with it. Stop asking for permission and ask for forgiveness when you’re finished. Put out the kind of paper and website you think the Technician should, and don’t worry about what the advisers will say. What I’d emphasize:
Narrow the focus to what you can do best. Think about what your readers are interested in, and stop doing things just because that’s-the-way-its-always-been-done. I’d focus on breaking news, student groups,sports and commentary. Make sure there’s a great campus calendar online.
Social media. There’s not any interaction on the Technician’s Facebook page or Twitter account. Fix that. Appoint someone in charge of those accounts and reaching out to readers. Try Flickr and asking readers to submit photos. Answer reader questions on Formspring. Try Tumblr. Most importantly, make it a two-way conversation between staff and readers.
Link, link, link. Point your readers to where they can find more information. Better still, use Publish2 to curate links to news elsewhere.
Seek student bloggers to fill in what you can’t cover. UNC has a rich community of student and community bloggers, and I’m sure the same is true of N.C. State. Make it easy for them to submit guest posts, and create incentives for doing so.
Ditch College Publisher. Build a WordPress site over the summer. Check out the Edit Flow workflow fromCoPress to help manage multiple users. Come back in the fall and go web-first. Do your writing and editing in the CMS. Publish as soon as possible.
And if all else fails, quit the Technician. For a $10 domain name, a cheap web hosting plan and a free WordPress theme, a group of students could easily band together to start their own online-only news organization with just the money they’d spend on beer in one night. Look at Onward State and NYU Local for inspiration. Breaking off and forming an independent online-only publication wouldn’t be easy, but it is the ultimate way to gain the editorial freedom the staff seeks.
Daily Tar Heel reporters and editors are now taking questions via Formspring.
Answering reader questions isn’t a new idea, but we’re excited about trying that with this new platform. This isn’t a tool that was created with a journalistic purpose in mind, but neither was Twitter or Facebook – two tools that have we now recognize have immense value for journalists.
Creating a forum where readers could easily ask questions of DTH staff has been on our radar for awhile, but we’ve been limited by time and ability. Formspring might not be the most nuanced way for us to accomplish this goal (I imagine the ratio of spam to legitimate questions will be high), but I’m happy we’re trying something new. I think this is a really good lesson for other college newspapers: Make the most with what you have, and stop waiting for something better that might never come.
Great news for those of us who worry about the increasing tendency of college administrations to throw the excuse of FERPA at every public records request: The University of Maryland will now have to release the names of those who violate the school’s code for sexual assault after the state’s Attorney General ruled that releasing the names of convicted offenders doesn’t violate the educational privacy law.
This is great news for all journalists, but especially college newspapers. FERPA — the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — was meant to protect student academic records. But college administrators have used the gray area of the law to deny access to a range of records that were never intended to be restricted.
The Daily Tar Heel has fought against the misuse of FERPA for years, notably by challenging a 1996 decision to restrict DTH reporters from attending the disciplinary proceedings against two students accused of stealing copies of a conservative on-campus magazine. More recently, we’ve been denied access to petitions collected by student body president candidates with the argument that providing the names of students signers would violate their FERPA rights (I’d link, but the paper’s archives from the 2008-09 school year aren’t online). We’ve also been denied access to e-mails between the parents of a student shot by police earlier this year and the chancellor, again in the name of FERPA.
While any misuse of FERPA is cause for alarm, the situation in the Diamondback article touches on one of the most important reason why significant FERPA reform is needed. Student honor and disciplinary courts wield an enormous amount of power, with the ability to suspend and expel students for actions that now are often shrouded in secrecy. There is a reason that criminal courts operate publicly: Anyone accused of a crime should be granted an opportunity to confront their accusers, something that can’t be ensured if courts are sealed from observers in the name of FERPA.
Have a FERPA horror story? E-mail DTH General Manager Kevin Schwartz, who is collecting tales of FERPA misuse to mount a campaign for reform.
Filed under:college journalism | Tags:FERPA, public records
For several weeks now I’ve been posting on The Daily Tar Heel’s new Tumblr blog. The idea was borne out of my experience with my personal Tumblr and through this Q&A with the man behind the Newsweek Tumblr.
What I like: Mostly, it’s ease of use. These are things I come across throughout the day, and they don’t always have a place elsewhere. In the past I’ve thrown similar-style blog posts up on our campus blog, but it’s not well-suited for a quick quote, photo or link. And sometimes that’s all that needs to be shared.
I’m not so sure how this fits into our overall strategy, or whether it serves any purpose. Even if it does, I’m not sure if it’s something that is worth devoting limited time and resources to. We’re steadily gaining followers, and we’ve gotten a good deal of traffic from links posted to Twitter, but whether readers get anything out of it is another question. Undoubtedly we’re reading a different type of audience than we typically do though, so the question becomes then how to get them to dailytarheel.com. And that I haven’t figured out yet. Any suggestions?
Filed under:blogging, social media, The Daily Tar Heel | Tags:Tumblr
I’m really happy to announce what will be my last job at The Daily Tar Heel: community manager. As online managing editor I helped create this role, and I’m excited to see it continue and play a part in shaping it. We’ve made so many strides this year under Emily Stephenson’s leadership, and I only hope to continue in that vein.
My title is officially community manager, but I most identify with the notion of a community host similar to how Steve Buttry has described the role. Here’s how I described the role in my application:
Ideally, the community manager would realize that there’s actually very little about the community that can be managed; instead, she needs to be able to participate and know how to get the most out of each interaction. The community manager needs to be a personable and recognizable figure in the community, such that people know who to contact with concerns and ideas. She also needs to be trusted by the community. The community manager must recognize that she needs to build a relationship with the community before she can accomplish her goals. We can’t just swoop in and ask readers to share things with us — there needs to be a relationship from the beginning that encourages openness. For the DTH, the community manager needs to be someone who can relay concerns back to the newsroom and make its mission more transparent to readers.
I have my own ideas for what I can do with the role, and I’m excited to get started. For those who are old hats at this job, any advice?